Attempting to communicate authentically to others is akin to riding bumper cars; it’s awkward and messy and I always seem to catch people off guard. Because I hold myself to the principle of always being true to who I am and what I feel at the moment, I might say stuff that are faux pas. Thank God, the response is often positive in that the person responds back with authenticity as opposed to generically. But sometimes I end up ruffling someone’s feathers and I feel like a matador cornered by a vicious bull, bracing myself for being gored. I hate negativity and conflicts, so my knee-jerk reaction is to shut down, apologize, and quickly leave the situation and never look back. But when that initial shut down occurs, I go to a place that is not me; a place that I’ve worked hard to stay out of.
A sterile enclave with white, pristine walls where nothing grows; no feelings, thoughts,improvement. A place where I’m held up like a caged animal at the zoo, being admired by onlookers and having approvals thrown at me, as some sort of consolidation for being imprisoned. That’s no life to live. So, in that moment I decide to risk being gored for the truth. I push through the intense shame fest that goes on in my head and the negative self-talk that berates me for having opened up for having been honest,for having been myself. What was I to do? Not be myself? I can’t control the reaction of someone else. I can’t. If they become happy or want to gore me to death, that’s their reaction, not mine. I will not lose what is mine to gain approval that is not mine, anyway.
So, put my self-talk on loud speaker and tell the person what I’m feeling; ‘hey, I’m sensing that you are angry with me.’ or ‘ why are you ignoring me ‘ or ‘ that remark really hurt me. What did you mean by that?’.
And it always dismantles the hostility of the situation. I don’t know why that it is. But the shame and negative self-talk seem to thrive in secrecy, and by exposing them I take a step forward towards the person in order to connect, and not ten steps back to disconnect in order to save myself.
The outcome is always one of two; either we end up reconnecting on a deeper level of humanity, or the person is so comfortable in that zoo-like mentality where simply the thought of stepping outside the confines of generic responses and reactions to get in touch with their estranged self is threatening.
Either way, I come away remaining myself, only braver and bolder. And with flushed cheeks from the embarrassing situation where I almost got gored but didn’t.